2021-04-18 11:46:37

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ENGLISH Astra turned her face aside, to conceal the sudden unbending of the set mouth. "Indeed, I do not," she faltered.The rush of joy was almost too great. It swept over Bergan's senses like a great whelming wave; speech and sound were lost in it; sight was gone, except for Carice's sweet, fair face, the one point of light in a vast ocean of blackness; feeling was annihilated, save that he clung to that dear hand as to the one treasure that he would not be parted from, let him be carried whither he might. Firmly and tenderly it closed upon his, too,seeming to be the only thing which kept him from drifting out into that wide obscurity, and brought him back to the steady standing-ground of consciousness. There he was met by a rush of gratitude and sympathy only a little less overpowering. He knew so well what that avowal had cost Diva's pride! He understood so clearly whence came that solemn light of sacrifice in her eyes, that exalted beauty in her face, and how dearly it had been won! Still holding Carice fast with one hand, he held out the other to her, with emotion too deep for aught but a benediction.

In this cooler frame of mind, it naturally occurred to Bergan that he was in no fit condition to face a festal throng. His appearance, thus way-worn and travel-stained, would be scarcely more timely than that of the Ancient Mariner to the wedding guest. It would look as if he, too, had a tale of horror to impart, and Carice might be unpleasantly startled,Carice, who little imagined him so near to her! At the thought, a strange, indefinable thrill and shiver passed over him, hard to define as either pleasure or pain.So the months rolled away, and the year drew near to its close. Doctor Remy had prosecuted his abstruse study, by the dim light of the science of that day, with characteristic energy and acuteness. He had slowly felt his way, from the premise that each faculty of the mind had its appropriate seat in the brain, to the conclusion that every local injury or disease would affect mainly the faculty corresponding to the injured or diseased portion, thereby not only indicating the seat of the impaired faculty, but suggesting the possibility of a local remedy for the local disturbance,probably a delicate and difficult surgical operation, to remove pus, slivers of bone, or other foreign matter pressing upon, piercing, or otherwise irritating the sensitive cellular tissue of the brain. Now, he only longed for an opportunity to test his conclusions by experiment, and would certainly have attempted to use Carice for this purpose, except that on her slender thread of life hung his only chance of Bergan Hall. It would not do to sacrifice the immense future advantage to the small immediate gain.At Oakstead, Dick was informed that Mr. Bergan was at the Hall, and wherefore. He dared not go after him, knowing that Doctor Remy would certainly be there also. He debated with himself, for a moment, whether it would not be well to make his errand known to Mrs. Bergan; but murmuring cynically, "A woman conceals only what she don't know," he decided to entrust her with a message simply. This was so mysteriously and solemnly given, however, as necessarily to suggest to her, after his departure, that he might possibly have found some clue to the mystery of Bergan's absence; whereupon she dispatched a servant to the Hall with the message,though not without a strict injunction that he should deliver it to his master privately. But this, as has been seen, was not so well observed as to prevent some portion of the message from reaching Doctor Remy's ears, and exciting his suspicions.

"Dictum sapienti sat est," answered Dick, sulkily, denying himself the pleasure of translating, and immediately closing his lips tight, as if he dared not trust himself to say another word."Yes, massa.""We have been talking of you," said Carice, with gentle directness.

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Bergan lifted his head, and his face was ashy pale. "I go, uncle," said he, hoarsely, "since that is your wish. In all that I have said, though said never so unwisely, I assure you that I have had only Carice's happiness at heart; and I pray God that you may not have cause to rue it, to your dying day, that you did not listen to me!"

There was nothing more to be said. He shook her hand warmly, told her that he had promised her mother to come again on the morrow, lifted his hat, with his usual courtesy, and went down the street, in such a maze of pity and perplexity, that he forgot to notice which way he went."Do you know where he is to be found?" asked Bergan."Take care. Quien mas corre, menos vuela,the more haste the worst speed," said Dick, warningly. "Stay a little, and news will find you."

Nature, meanwhile, was laboring in her slow, gentle way, to effect the same end contemplated by the doctor's science. With the beginning of November, a change was observable in Carice. Her sweet face lost its look of happy anticipation, and grew weary and anxious. There were tokens that she was beginning to reason again, in a fitful, fragmentary way, and to notice some of the many discrepancies between the facts and the theories of her life; sometimes she put her hand to her head with a piteous expression of doubt and bewilderment. By and by, she became possessed of a spirit of restlessness by day, and of sleeplessness by night; making the care of herhitherto an easy and a pleasant taska sufficiently onerous charge. Thus it happened that she had made her escape to the Hall, as heretofore narrated. Her night had been restless, beyond all previous precedent, keeping Rosa constantly on the watch. Toward dawn, she had fallen into a light slumber, during which the weary attendant, sitting quietly by the bedside, had suddenly been overcome by a profound sleep. Waking ere long, and not wishing to disturb her tired maid, Carice stole softly to the window, to look out, as usual, for Bergan's coming, and saw the light shining again from the window of his room in the old Hall. The broken links in the chain of association were stirred, if not reunited,perhaps a dim reminiscence of her former attempt to reach him woke within her,she wrapped herself in the first shawl that came to hand, thrust her feet into a pair of slippers, and noiselessly made her way out of the house and down to the river, exactly as she had done a year before. At the gap in the foot-bridge, through which she had fallen, she stopped and put her hand to her brow, in a momentary perplexity. Here, her memory of the former expedition, which had led her thus far on her way, failed her;what was she to do next?Yet one word had fallen from Bergan's lips, which had startled him at the moment, and haunted him on his way homeward. The young man had seriously bidden him be thankful that he was saved from "another crime." Was the phrase accidental, or did it imply some knowledge of the affair of the will? In the latter case, was it likely that Bergan would submit to the loss of what he had been encouraged, at one time, to consider his lawful inheritance, without a most rigid scrutiny and investigation of the document by which, while the property was apparently given to Carice, it was done in such a way as to place it absolutely in her husband's control. Would Bergan's forbearance toward her and hers be likely to extend as far as this? Judging by himself, and his experience of men in general, and especially of heirs, he did not hesitate to affirm that it would not. For, though Bergan had seemed to be possessed of some unusually Quixotic notions of honor, independence, and disinterestedness, during the period of their intimate association, he had doubtless seen enough of life since then, to grow more sensible. What, then, had he not to dread from his natural acuteness and legal skill, when both of these, sharpened by interest, should be brought to bear on the false will?

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"Because when I was wondering to whom I could go," answered Bergan, "I found myself standing before your door. Because you did me the honor, two weeks ago, to ask me a certain question, and I thought that this might be the beginning of a better answer than I was able to give you."

Godfrey Bergan set his teeth hard. "Will not?" he repeated angrily. "Will not! I will have you to understand, young man, that there is neither will, nor will not, on these premises, but mine. On my soul, if you do not go, and quickly, I will call my servants, and have you put off from the place as a drunkard and a vagabond."

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Apr-18 11:46:37